Mount Hartzell

February 23, 2017

2615m

Pemberton / Duffey Lake Road, BC

Among the 5 peaks on Matier Glacier in the heart of Joffre Group, Mt. Hartzell is the 4th highest and the least impressive. The standard route is a mere plod on snow up the broad east flanks from Matier/Hartzell col followed by a somewhat corniced traverse. Getting there involves some easy glacier travel and the usual approach is via Anniversary Glacier from Cerise Creek. I chose the lower Matier Glacier approach from Joffre Lakes which is more involved, but offers more variation. In the winter of last year I had ascended Mt. Matier (N. Rib), Joffre Peak (Aussie Couloir) and then Slalok Mountain (N. Face) in a roll and earlier in this day I had just tagged Mt. Spetch via its NW Face. My last peak in this immediate vicinity would be Mt. Hartzell and I was looking forward to it.

Mt. Spetch and Mt. Hartzell via Matier Glacier approach

Mt. Spetch and Mt. Hartzell via Matier Glacier approach. GPX DL

I skirted around the base of Mt. Spetch without losing too much elevation and in short time I was going up again. A bit of side-hilling later I picked up another set of skin tracks and followed it gradually towards the distant Matier/Hartzell col. The north side of Mt. Hartzell looked particularly impressive and so did the NW Face of Mt. Matier. There was no track yet on the face but given the weather and conditions I was sure it would get ski’d soon. The plod to Matier/Hartzell col was longer than I thought and dragged on for quite a while. Without doing any unnecessary lingering I immediately turned right up the slopes. The snowshoes were ditched soon as the terrain was getting increasingly steep, while looking back the south buttress of Mt. Matier loomed impressively above.

Skirting around Mt. Spetch while looking back at Slalok Mountain

Skirting around Mt. Spetch while looking back at Slalok Mountain

Mt. Hartzell looming in front. I was aiming at M/H col which was on the left side

Mt. Hartzell looming in front. I was aiming at M/H col which is on the left side

The impressive NW Face of Mt. Matier

The impressive NW Face of Mt. Matier

Joffre Peak with its Aussie Couloir properly displaced

Joffre Peak with its Aussie Couloir properly displaced

Looking back at Mt. Spetch which was my previous objective

Looking back at Mt. Spetch which was my previous objective

This is the east slopes of Mt. Hartzell which looked quite easy

This is the east slopes of Mt. Hartzell which looks quite easy

Almost at Matier/Hartzell col, looking back

Almost at Matier/Hartzell col, looking back

Arriving at Matier/Hartzell col

Arriving at Matier/Hartzell col

This is the south buttress of Mt. Matier which is very impressive

This is the south buttress of Mt. Matier which is very impressive

Looking down the south side of M/H col. Lots of skiing activities down Hartzell Glacier

Looking down the south side of M/H col. Lots of skiing activities down Hartzell Glacier

There’s a steep roll at about 1/3 of the way up that’s probably approaching 40 degrees but very short-lived. At this point I was still following a set of boot tracks but they soon stopped. The place where they turned around was a bit strange to me as it’s not the most natural spot to transition to downhill skiing even if they aren’t interested in peak-bagging. But as soon as I reached their highest point I understood why as they probably didn’t bring crampons. The snow condition suddenly became very icy and I had to do my own gear transition in the middle of this slope to take out ice axe and crampons, and those gears were then used all the way to the summit.

Going up the typical terrain on the east slopes of Mt. Hartzell

Going up the typical terrain on the east slopes of Mt. Hartzell

This angle makes Mt. Matier like a Himalayan giant!

This angle makes Mt. Matier like a Himalayan giant!

Joffre Peak and Matier Glacier from partway up Mt. Hartzell

Joffre Peak and Matier Glacier from partway up Mt. Hartzell

Another photo looking sideways across the south side of Mt. Matier.

Another photo looking sideways across the south side of Mt. Matier.

This is Snowspider Mountain which I bagged a month ago via Vantage Col

This is Snowspider Mountain which I bagged a month ago via Vantage Col

This is Bible Group at the head of Van Horlick Valley

This is Bible Group at the head of Van Horlick Valley

Some spires on Mt. Hartzell

Some spires on Mt. Hartzell

The true summit ahead.

The true summit ahead.

A wider shot showing Duffey Peak and Twin Goat Mountain in front

A wider shot showing Duffey Peak and Twin Goat Mountain in front

Summit Panorama from Mt. Hartzell. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama from Mt. Hartzell. Click to view large size.

Another panorama shot from the summit. Click to view large size.

Another panorama shot from the summit. Click to view large size.

Twin Goat Mountain and the Lillooet Lake Valley

Twin Goat Mountain and the Lillooet Lake Valley

The false summit traverse

The false summit traverse

Duffey Peak

Duffey Peak

Peaks in the eastern Cayoosh Range by Downton Creek drainage

Peaks in the eastern Cayoosh Range by Downton Creek drainage

Cayoosh Mountain and peaks further behind are engulfed in clouds

Cayoosh Mountain and peaks further behind are engulfed in clouds

Slalok Mountain

Slalok Mountain

Joffre Peak and Aussie Couloir

Joffre Peak and Aussie Couloir

A wider shot of Joffre Peak rises behind Matier Glacier

A wider shot of Joffre Peak rises behind Matier Glacier

Mt. Spetch in the foreground

Mt. Spetch in the foreground

This shot shows the lower stretch of Matier Glacier which I just crossed

This shot shows the lower stretch of Matier Glacier which I just crossed

Me on the summit of Mt. Hartzell

Me on the summit of Mt. Hartzell

The timing was perfect as it’s right at the point that some clouds started to get blown in obscuring the taller peaks. This was just as expected given the weather forecast. I carefully reversed the narrow traverse over the false summit and then easily plunged down to M/H col. Crampons off and snowshoes on the next stage was an easy plunge down the gentle Matier Glacier. I on purposely slowed down to enjoy this beautiful setting as I knew I probably wouldn’t come back here again, at least not in the near future as I’ve now done all 5 peaks accessible from this glacier. I also briefly thought about descending the skier’s left exit (underneath Slalok north face) but didn’t quite feel like exploring into the unknown, so followed my own tracks down skier’s right towards the icefalls.

Time to go down. First of all I had to traverse over the false summit

Time to go down. First of all I had to traverse over the false summit

Looking back at the true summit

Looking back at the true summit

Mists blowing in making Mt. Matier look even bigger

Mists blowing in making Mt. Matier look even bigger

Features on the summit ridge of Mt. Hartzell

Features on the summit ridge of Mt. Hartzell

Down to M/H col now, ahead is the glacier plod

Down to M/H col now, ahead is the glacier plod

Looking back at Matier/Hartzell col

Looking back at Matier/Hartzell col

Mt. Spetch

Mt. Spetch

Looking back at that pointy Mt. Hartzell

Looking back at that pointy Mt. Hartzell

Plodding down the glacier following my own tracks

Plodding down the glacier following my own tracks

Snowshoe tracks on Matier Glacier

Snowshoe tracks on Matier Glacier

One last look at Joffre Peak

One last look at Joffre Peak

Crossing a pair of ski tracks

Crossing a pair of ski tracks

A group of 4 going for Slalok Mountain. They'd eventually ski its north face

A group of 4 going for Slalok Mountain. They’d eventually ski its north face

Picture showing there're quite a few large dents on the glacier.

Picture showing there’re quite a few large dents on the glacier.

It’s a big slope down to the upper lake. The entrance had some soft powder on top of a firm crust and the plunge was easy and fast, but once the grade steepened it started to get treacherous. Not wanting to risk a slip I removed the snowshoes and boot-packed/post-holed down the slope. The condition was OK to not use crampons and that simplified things a bit. I had the option to follow the skin tracks traversing a long way due skier’s right but decided to just reverse my ascent route. This wasn’t easy though as boot-packing down the debris zone required some great care and was slow going. At the bottom of the slope I opted to continue straight down to the lake as opposed to traversing to the right and this proved to be a more pleasant option at least for someone not travelling on skis. The snowshoes were strapped on again and then I had a nice stroll back across the entire length of upper Joffre Lake. Another mandatory food break was taken before I leisurely walked back to the parking lot.

Just above the icefalls, looking across towards Mt. Taylor

Just above the icefalls, looking across towards Mt. Taylor

Slalok Mountain

Slalok Mountain

This is the big slope that I had to descend to upper Joffre Lake

This is the big slope that I had to descend to upper Joffre Lake

The first part was nice and easy.

The first part was nice and easy.

Cool seracs!

Cool seracs!

The lower stretch would be ugly..

The lower stretch would be ugly..

Finally exiting the seracs' drop zones...

Finally exiting the seracs’ drop zones…

Down to the upper Joffre Lake now. It seemed to drag for quite a while..

Down to the upper Joffre Lake now. It seemed to drag for quite a while..

Looking back at the route I took.

Looking back at the route I took.

Matier Icefall approach: Red is the skier's track; Green is my route; Purple is climber's right access

Matier Icefall approach: Red is the skier’s track; Green is my route; Purple is climber’s right access

One last look from upper Joffre Lake showing the N. Face of Slalok Mtn.

One last look from upper Joffre Lake showing the N. Face of Slalok Mtn.

A well-defined trail heading home.

A well-defined trail heading home.

Down to the middle Joffre Lake

Down to the middle Joffre Lake

The unpleasant descent down to the lower lake.

The unpleasant descent down to the lower lake.

In the end my round trip time was about 9 hours which was pretty much as expected. Too tired to drive home due to the lack of sleep I opted for a 2-hour nap somewhere in Pemberton. And then the rest of the journey back to Vancouver was uneventful. The timing was good as I was 1-2 hours behind the rush hour so didn’t get stuck in the traffics. Regarding Mt. Spetch and Mt. Hartzell I’d say both are highly recommended. However, I don’t think I’ll ever do the same approach again. The slope from Joffre Lake to Matier Icefalls via climber’s left side is not pleasant and exposes you to serac hazard from above. There is an alternative route that goes up climber’s right underneath the north face of Slalok Mountain but that route requires more snow coverage. It looked good on this day though.

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